Benjamin Harrison is best known as the President of the United States who served between the two terms of Grover Cleveland. As the 23rd President, he served from 1889-1893, entering the office without winning the popular vote and then losing his bid for re-election. Harrison is also the only Grandson of a President to hold the office and the Great-Grandson of Benjamin Harrison V, signer of the Declaration of Independence. (Harrison’s Dad John Scott Harrison must have felt like a total loser, only serving in the House of Representatives for Ohio!)
But despite being a frequent answer to these and other trivia questions, our last bearded President should be best known for the foreign policy he helped shape, the signing of the Sherman Antitrust Act, and the admission of six new states to the Union – the most admitted by any President since Washington.
Harrison is one of our seven Ohio-born Presidents, but he is typically considered an Indiana native…although he didn’t move there until he was 21. He did however serve as a U.S. Senator from Indiana. I have seen the various Harrison sites in Ohio and Indiana over the course of four trips around the area.
Saturday, August 22, 1998 / Sunday, August 4, 2008 – Benjamin Harrison Birthplace – Harrison was born on the estate of his grandfather President William Henry Harrison in North Bend, Ohio. The house, known simply as “The Big House,” was torn down in 1959. At the time of my 1998 visit during a road trip around my friend Bob around Ohio, the sign seen below was on the site.
The corner of Washington and Symmes in North Bend
Close-up of the old sign in 1998
A new sign, this time an official Ohio Historical marker, was erected in 2003, and Bob, Jackie, and I visited the area again in 2008. One side of the sign alludes to the site as being the home of William Henry Harrison (which it was) and the reverse of the sign draws attention that it was the birthplace of Benjamin Harrison (which it also was).
The William Henry Harrison side
The Benjamin Harrison side
Overview of the sign and lot where a privately owned house now sits
Thursday, July 22, 2004 / Sunday, June 8, 2008 – Benjamin Harrison home – Bob and I stopped in Indianapolis to see both the home and grave of Benamin Harrison at the end of a four-day road trip following the 2004 Sons of the Desert convention. The house was occupied by Harrison and his family for over 25 years, moving into the house which he had built in 1875 and remaining there until his death in 1901.
Roughly 75 percent of all of the furnishings and artifacts in the home are original Harrison pieces, containing furniture, books, paintings, monogrammed napkins, and personal items of Harrison and his two wives Caroline and Mary Lord. The third floor of the museum is a revolving display, which in 2004 was dedicated to campaign memorablia throughout the history of the Presidency. I bought some Harrison postage stamp first-day covers in the gift shop.
Photo I took of the Harrison house in 2004
Little had changed by the time of my second visit in 2008, other than the unsightly construction going on around the house, the revolving display on the third floor, and the fact that I now had the brains to take more photos. Although I couldn’t use a flash, I captured some images of me and a few noteworthy pieces in the house. The new revolving display was now focused on voting through the years, but contained much of the campaign memorablia I had seen in 2004. Jackie, Chris, and I also went out to the carriage house which I believe Bob and I had missed before to see the Harrison sleigh and a tribute room to the First Ladies. In 2004, they had promised me that they would have souvenir magnets in stock for next visit and they didn’t let me down.
Me at the Harrison home. I would have preferred to not have the Komatsu construction equipment in the picture, but Chris refused to move it
Sign in front of the house
Me and Jackie with the rock in the front yard
Baby crib which was slept in by an infant William Henry Harrison and passed down to his grandson
Original Harrison painting in the house
The bed and room in which Benjamin Harrison died
Thursday, July 22, 2004 / Sunday, June 8, 2008 / Saturday, July 19, 2014 – Benjamin Harrison grave – Bob and I visited the grave of Harrison and his wives at the Crown Hill Cemetery (the nations third largest they say), after we saw the home in 2004. I snapped a couple photos of the marker but didn’t get in the picture. Because of this, a re-visit was necessary and was the whole raison d’etre of my second visit to Indianapolis in 2008.
The Harrison grave in 2004
Next to Harrison on either side are buried his two wives, the First Lady Caroline, and her niece Mary Lord to whom Harrison married after Caroline’s death. After visiting the grave of the Harrisons upon our arrival in Indianapolis, we went to work at locating the three Vice Presidents who are also buried at Crown Hill.
Close up of the inscription on the monument
With the Harrison marker
Marker for the First Lady
Inscription on the side of the monument for Harrison’s second wife
Me and Benjamin Harrison
I made my third visit to Harrison’s grave some ten years after my first. As my girlfriend Carolyn and I were passing through Indianapolis on our way to Springfield, Illinois, we stopped in at Crown Hill and paid our respects to Benjamin and the First Ladies, as well as visits to the three Vice Presidents elsewhere in the cemetery.
Ben and me in 2014
Continue to the next President…
Return to Saturday in Ohio 1998… (under construction)
Return to Thursday in Indiana 2004… (under construction)
Return to Sunday in Indianapolis 2008…
Return to Saturday in Ohio 2008…